The Differences between SBIR and STTR Cheat Sheet

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The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs both provide Small Business Administration (SBA) grants to small businesses for research. The two programs share the same three phases, with separate federal contracts awarded for Phases I and II. Phase I is innovation and research, where the scientific merit and commercial viability of an innovation is studied.  Phase II focuses on the innovation’s development, demonstration and delivery. Phase III involves preparation for commercial rollout and is funded by outside sources rather than the SBA.

While the two programs share many similarities, they have some important differences as well. While SBIR is geared at small businesses conducting independent research, STTR grants are only available to small businesses teamed up with a nonprofit research institution such as universities or Federal Laboratories. Below, we compare some other ways in how the two programs differ.


Who applies? For-profit U.S. small business For profit U.S. small business (partnered with nonprofit research institution)
Phases Phase I: 6 months
Phase II: 24 months
Phase III: Variable (Not SBIR funded)
Phase I: 13 months
Phase II: 24 months
Phase III: Variable (Not STTR funded)
Principal Investigator Employed at least 51% by the small business with at least 10% effort May be employed by either the small business or non-profit with at least 10% effort
Intellectual Property (IP) Requires the small business and non-profit to have an agreement concerning IP and further research/development
Amounts and timelines Phase I: $150,000 for 6 months
Phase II: $1M for 2 years
Phase I: $150,000 for 1 year
Phase II: $1,000,000 for 2 years
Is collaboration required? Allowed Required
Work distribution (R&D) Small business: minimum 66% Phase I, 50% Phase II
Non-profit: maximum 33% Phase I, 50% Phase II
Small business: minimum 40% both phases
Non-profit minimum 30% both phases
Number of participating agencies 12 5